Boutin Student Center, Second Floor
44 West Street
Worcester, MA 01609
Campus Center West, First Floor
964 Main Street
Leicester, MA 01524
When Caroline Plunkett, from the small beach town of Belle Harbor, Queens, N.Y., began life as a Becker College freshman, she never dreamed she would be contemplating a career as a doctor of physical therapy. In high school, she thought a titanium rod, inserted from her knee to her ankle, would keep her from continuing her track as a promising soccer player. How things change.
Plunkett was a leading scorer in girls’ soccer at her high school, St. Francis Prep, reaching the varsity level early. A collision with a goalie resulted in a serious break and landed her in long-term physical therapy.
It was her close family—her mother and two brothers—who helped spur Plunkett on to a solid recovery. “My mom motivated me to walk and to run, and when she threw the soccer ball at my feet, I knew I was ready,” she says. “My mom is my hero, role model, and mentor. She is one of the strongest women I know. She’s the one who has motivated me in every category of my life, whether it be soccer or school or to be a better person. She is also the one I turn to when I need inspiration to achieve all my goals.”
With the foundation of her mother’s support, Plunkett was open to new opportunities, and she took full advantage of her Becker College experience.
“I never thought I would achieve as much as I have,” she says. “I thought that I would just go through my four years at college as a typical student, but instead I became a better person through the great Becker community and especially through soccer. My soccer career at Becker was more than I could ever ask for—becoming a three-time captain and holding school records are more than I ever thought I could accomplish.”
In November 2012, Plunkett was named the New England Collegiate Conference (NECC) women's soccer Player of the Year. In addition to that title, she was also selected First Team All-Conference. She led the Hawks in 2012 with a career-high 25 goals, which is the most in a single season by any soccer player in Becker College history. Plunkett also tied for the Becker single season points record, with 55. Ranked sixth in the nation in goals, she also set the benchmark for goals in a career (66) and points in a career (141).
Plunkett’s coach encouraged her to join the Student Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC). As a member of SAAC, she was chosen to represent the NECC in Indianapolis at the 2012 National Collegiate Athletic Association convention. “This was an amazing experience for me,” she says. “I was lucky to meet many different student-athletes and coaches from all over the country in all divisions.”
The College’s core values also resonated with her. As a member of the women’s soccer team, Plunkett participated in many community service activities throughout the Leicester and Worcester communities. “We held a soccer clinic for younger children at the Elm Park Community School in Worcester,” she explains. “This experience showed me that by doing this clinic, we can show the children the sport that we love, as well as teach them and have fun.”
Plunkett applies intense focus on the field and in the classroom. She credits the cohesive environment of the exercise science program, and the relationships she has forged with her classmates, for her academic success. Her studies prepared her to flourish at her 200-hour internship as an aide with Greendale Physical Therapy in Shrewsbury, Mass.
“I feel secure in my field,” states Plunkett. “My professors thoroughly taught me what I need to know. We had hands-on experience in a lot of group labs using the same machines we would encounter in the workplace.”
While at her internship, the care she observed from the doctors and therapists and the progress she saw the patients making had a big impact on Plunkett. She says she recalled her own time in physical therapy and how it helped her get stronger and work harder. This student-athlete seems to have had a positive impact on Greendale Physical Therapy as well. The practice offered her a position after graduation.
Research shows that successful internship experiences often lead to employment and to students settling in the local area after graduation. Plunkett plans to stay in greater Worcester to continue working and her education. She has set her sights on the three-year doctorate in physical therapy program at Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences in Worcester.
For Plunkett, being at Becker has truly been a transformational experience. “When I enrolled at Becker, I did not know how much was out there for me,” she says. “The past four years at Becker College have allowed me to open up my mind and shown me that I can achieve what I want in life.”